Life of Awe

The Pleasure of “Finding Things Out”

October 6, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

“It is imperative,” wrote Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman“to have uncertainty as a fundamental part of your inner nature.”

Richard Feynman recognized early in life the special, distinctive feeling of being close to the edge of knowledge, where people do not know the answers. He held curiosity and uncertainty at the center of his intellectual and creative life.

Curiosity Can Lead to Odd Behavior

To say that Feynman (1919-1988) was a bit of an oddball is most certainly an understatement. Along with his brilliant achievements as a physicist (including the integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, as well as assisting in the development of the atomic bomb) he dabbled in dozens of creative and entertaining endeavors—a truly admirable hero to those of us driven by curiosity.

Feynman consistently tested the frontiers of his own competence by teaching himself a wide and wild array of skills, always romancing the intoxicating uncertainty of not-quite knowing. Knowing nothing about drawing, he taught himself to make perfect freehand circles on the blackboard; He taught himself how to write Chinese. He taught himself how to force everything from his field of vision except for his research problem of the moment. Lastly he taught himself how to live with cancer, and then how to surrender to it.

There is also the story that has become part of physics lore. A young Feynman grew bored in the remote New Mexico desert while working on the atomic bomb during World War II. He amused himself by learning to pick the combination locks in the supposedly secure filing cabinets containing America’s nuclear secrets. Frustrated administrators of the project changed to more secure locks and, as you might guess, Feynman picked those locks as well—all for the fun of it.

No One Really Knows–That What makes it Fun

Feynman is the poster child for the delight of toying with curiosity and uncertainty. In my research of Feynman on curiosity and uncertainty I came upon this statement by Carl Sagan. For me, his comments are essential for the truly curious person to remain open-minded, resting on the value of uncertainty and the humility to admit no one human has a lock on truth.

“If we ever reach the point where we think we thoroughly understand who we are and where we came from,” Carl Sagan wrote, “we will have failed.” Perhaps because, as Krista Tippett has observed, science and religion “ask different kinds of questions altogether, probing and illuminating in ways neither could alone.”

Sagan’s and Tippett’s comments are appropriate not only for religion and science, but also for all human knowledge as we know it. For me, except for the inexplicable power of Love, everything we know is subject to review, reconsideration, and quite possibly change.

Scary? What’s there to lose in the art of learning?

Radical Open-Mindedness

A Most Lonely Option

Photo courtesy of ClaudioVentrella at istockphoto

IMPORTANT NOTE: Parts of this post have been directly lifted from Maria Popova of Brainpickings.

Nomad or Settler: Which Are You?

September 29, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Hunter S. Thompson, prolific author and creator of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, once commented on how he wanted to appear in his coffin. Most people, he suggested, want to look pretty or beautiful in the coffin for the passers-by to ooh and aah at. Hunter, on the other hand, said he wanted to look used and spent, with a worn out face suggesting a life lived hard. I love it!

As you can guess, I want to die looking “spent.” I hope they say as they pass by my open coffin, “Wow, that dude lived a life hard!

Nomads, Gypsies and Settlers

In our earliest human state, we were Nomadic Hunter-Gatherers. So settling ourselves today in one space is oddly or ironically almost unnatural. Some of us are still natural explorer/hunters. When we cease hunting we fall to an unsatisfactory state of being.

Others are more predisposed to settling down where there is an increased sense of safety and predictability. These people always know where home is, as well as all the familial advantages that come with settling down. Society and the world itself would not exist, as we know it, without settlers. They are infinitely necessary for life as we have constructed it.

Then, there are those of us that are genetically (or environmentally) inclined to wander. Driven by curiosity and adventure we must have, at the very least, moments of Wander Lust. We require NEW. New people, new places to visit, and new cultures to explore haunt us as we find ourselves feeling stuck in the same ole, same ole.

How the Unfamiliar Enlightens the Soul

Europe has given me a heightened understanding of awe stemming from architectural wonders, the beauty of alternative world-views, the possibility of freedom from social and political restraints, and what it is like to have few obligations to my possessions and people.

Paraphrasing a TS Elliot poem, “We leave our heart and soul’s home in search of meaning, only upon return, to discover it was at home already within us all the time.” The cruel but exciting truth is that we must go on a life journey to discover that simple truth. It cannot be recognized in stillness. Movement is essential.

You Can be a Hybrid

So, what does this mean for me? Well, first of all I have a “settled” base of operations—home, family, finances, friends, and a state of well-being. I realize that a genuine nomad or gypsy would most likely say I’m cheating. Although, somewhere deep inside of me is a hint of a true nomad desiring fewer possessions and non-relational obligations—just a life of wandering one place to another in search of fulfilling an undefined curiosity about life.

But, having tied myself to so many obligations to other people, I would find it difficult to divorce myself from fulfilling my roles of husband, father, friend, provider, and encourager of those in need.

I must find alternative means to allow my gypsy soul to emerge. For today, it consists of frequent travel, new books, new stories to write, and new technological experimentations like my Podcast, The Next Chapter with Charlie. 

And you? Nomad or Settler? Either is good. Just be true to that inner core whispering words of personal truth.

The Nomadic Settler

An Interesting American Option

Photo courtesy of istockphoto

Science: God Killer or God Supporter

September 23, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments


“A little science estranges a man from God. A lot of science brings him back.” Francis Bacon

WARNING: This post is about God.

A Creative Intelligence

Since reading Sapiens: The Evolution of Humankind and following the latest (2014) Cosmos Series on Netflix my mind has been bombarded by the science of the enormity and unfathomable wonder of our universe.

At first, learning more of the complexity and marvels of the sciences can lead one to think these new learnings seem incongruent with the teachings of the Bible (and most likely the Koran as well). It is easy to understand why many bright students of the sciences can dismiss the notion of God altogether, opting for some form of universal evolution of all that exists. I know my new studies certainly forced me to reconsider the rationality of my beliefs in a God.

But after a bit of pondering and deep contemplation I arrived at the conclusion that life, the universe and everything is way too complex and orderly to be accidental. It seems to me there must be some sort of Creative Intelligence masterminding the whole thing for its own mysterious purpose. This leaves me with no philosophical choice but to opt for some Theistic Entity. For simplicity, let’s call this theistic entity God.

Who is God?

The problem of belief in God is laden with all sorts of very difficult issues resulting from differing religions claiming exclusivity to God’s nature and requirements for living. The three biggies—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—are often willing to go to extremes to protect their beliefs (think the Crusades, the Inquisition, and ISIS).

It is so frustrating for those of us who believe strongly in God, while still holding our personal beliefs without prejudice against others who believe differently.

My recent scientific inquiries regarding the complexity of the Universe lead me to believe ever more stridently in a Creative Intelligence named God. Increasing knowledge of the Universe convinces me that God is truly incomprehensible. The Creative Intelligence that initiated and supports the continued existence of the awe and wonder and complexity of the Cosmos is far, far beyond human understanding. Shoot, we don’t even understand gravity, how can we pretend to understand its Creator.

Love and Creativity

Personally I hold dear the fundamental propositions of the God of the Bible and Christianity. The primary reason I personally choose the Christian theology really boils down to one thing: LOVE.

Christianity is the only religion I know of that posits its primary thesis on the practice of love. Love is obviously (to me at least) the most significant of all human attributes. Without it, life would and does suck. Not only this but the Bible clearly claims, “God is love.” So not only does the Christian version of God claim the primary ethic desired by God is love but that the very nature, no the very existential reality of God, is love. If God IS Love, then, for me, the matter is resolved.

Now add Love to the nature of this Supreme Creative Intelligence that set in motion infinity, universes, atoms, and complexities so far beyond our scope of human knowledge or imagination and I am left in mind-boggling awe.

I think it is necessary for me to emphasize these are my personal beliefs. I feel no compunction to make anyone else agree with me. I respect the believers of other faith traditions—including atheists. One of my closest friends is a lover of life and humanity without belief in a god of any kind.

A “Modest and Humble” Belief

I once sat with an Episcopalian Bishop, Fred Borsch, who cautioned me: “Charlie,” he said, “we Episcopalians hold our beliefs with modesty and humility, always knowing that we could be wrong.” Remember, we are merely broken and often mistaken human beings.

Now, it’s your turn. Is Science a God Killer or God Supporter? The choice is totally up to you to decide for yourself.

I Believe What I Believe with Modesty and Humility

Knowing I Could Be Wrong

Photo courtesy of alex-mit at istockphoto

5 Tips for a Great Day

June 23, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

What would it take for you to have a Great Day, every day? Is a Great Day Everyday even possible? Probably not. But you can make most days Great Days. All it takes is some kind of combination of 5 High Impact Options. Check it out.
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When “Your Time is Almost Up”

April 15, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“Okay, your time is up.” We expect these words at the completion of a paint-ball game or massage or training session. But what about when God or the Voice of the Universe whispers these same words as a reminder that your time here on earth is “almost up?” Hmmm?

No, I’m not on my deathbed, nor am I even in the room that bed sits, but I do reside in the same house. Every decade or so I find the time has come for me to reevaluate what I want to do and be in the next decade. That time is upon me now. I think that because of my age this may be one of my most important life-assessment adventures.

So, I plan to take a 4-8 week hiatus from writing the blog
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Thoughts and Reflections: Serenity

February 7, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

They say “all we need is love,” which is only partly true.

We also need serenity and peace.

In fact, is it possible that, in the end “all we really want is serenity and peace?” No problems or issues to handle, no nasty people, no debt, no war, no stress.

Yep. I’ll take a serene life (full of love—haha).

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

I Just Decided to Do It!

December 31, 2015 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

As I consider 2016 and beyond I’m feeling the need to radically change the methods I’ve used to my determine my annual goals and resolutions. Neither goals nor resolutions actually work. Studies have indicated that less than 10% (8%) of resolutions are accomplished. I’ve found that ordinary goal setting or resolutions are pretty much a waste of time.
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Your Search for Meaning Starts Here

December 4, 2015 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Sunday Photos: Sunday is a pleasant day for resting curiously. A time to ponder. Below are random Life Thoughts inspired by Unsplash photos (found at Mikael from Crew.)

The Road Not Yet Traveled

Seneca, 1st Century Philosopher:

“Yes indeed, I shall use the old road, but if I find a better one I shall open it up. Those who pioneered the old routes are our leaders, not our masters. Truth lies open to everyone. There is yet to be a monopoly of truth. And there is plenty of it left for future generations.”

For the rest of your life you will walk “The Road Not Yet Traveled.” It is Your Road and it belongs only to you. It may include those you invite to join. But it is still a solitary road, because it it yours alone. The “search for meaning” road.

Walk with awe and wonder, always curiously anticipating what’s around the bend.


Your Search for Meaning Starts Here

November 29, 2015 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Sunday Photos: Sunday is a pleasant day for resting curiously. A time to ponder. Below are random Life Thoughts inspired by Unsplash photos (found at Mikael from Crew.)

You Matter

O, Creator

I look at your heavens,
    which you made with your fingers.
I see the moon and stars,
    which you created.
But why are people even important to you?
    Why do you take care of human beings?
You made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor. 

Is mankind the most important creation in the universe? Yep. Of course not. Really… who knows? More important… who cares?

The fact that we can even ask such a question is a sign of how honored we are to be made just a little lower than angels? I’m amazed that I can actually ponder and search for meaning in this vast universe. How cool is it to wonder: what’s is all about?

Such ponderings give me all the excuse I need to fully embrace as much of life as I possibly can. And if I can help someone else do the same then I will have truly lived meaningfully!

Life Today Sucks Without Life Tomorrow

September 24, 2015 by Charlie Hedges − 1 Comments

“You cannot be fully human without having hope for tomorrow!”

These words were uttered by Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, in a podcast interview with (you guessed it) Tim Ferriss. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that Wired is an inordinately innovative magazine published 10 years ahead of its time. When it first appeared in the mid 90’s (I think) it blew me away with its use of color, unique format, and provocative articles.
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